OTHER VOICES

Terror? Be specific

Posted May 04, 2011, at 8:17 p.m.

Ever since 9/11, Americans have known that they are vulnerable to a terrorist attack.

And since that horrible day, we have come to accept extra scrutiny when we travel, especially when we fly. Long security lines, shoe removal and even full-body scanning have become ordinary hassles of flying, as annoying and accepted as leg cramps and pressure-caused earaches.

Another thing that has become part of the landscape are the color-coded threat warnings, which were supposed to remind travelers about the heightened danger they faced.

The federal government now says that the colors are gone and they will be replaced with a system officials say will provide more information about the threats. …

Under the new system, there will be two threat levels, “elevated” and “imminent.” The alerts will be “based on specific, credible information about potential terrorist activity” and will include “as many details as we can provide in an unclassified form,” said Janet Napolitano, the secretary of Homeland Security.

The question still remains, however: What does the government want us to do with the information? If the threat is really “imminent,” which according to Webster’s means “likely to happen without delay,” why would they let people travel at all?

When it comes to evaluating how much danger we really face, the more specific the information, the better for the public. Managing the terror threat has been part of our lives for nearly a decade now, and we all have to look for ways to do it better.

Portland  Press Herald (April 27)

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Cubans deserve reform

Recently, Cuban President Raul Castro endorsed sweeping economic reforms, proposed term limits for government and Communist Party officials, and conceded that the party’s failure to groom a new generation of leaders will make it harder to find a successor.

The proposed reforms could usher in major changes. For the first time since the 1959 revolution, the government would allow Cubans to own and sell houses and cars. Taxis, barbershops, restaurants and other privately run businesses would be allowed to expand and hire workers. And the party’s top leadership would be limited to two consecutive terms in office, making another 50-year preside nt a thing of the past.

At the same time that Castro was bluntly calling for these reforms, however, he named two aging Communist Party hard-liners to help him implement them and cautioned that it might take as long as five years.

This isn’t the first time Cuba has experimented with reforms. But these proposals come in a very different time. Nearly 60 percent of all Cubans were born after the revolution, and the veterans of the Sierra Maestra who fought alongside Fidel and Raul Castro and Che Guevara are dying off. Surely, the president and his Politburo know that the best way to ensure the survival of their revol ution is to allow it to adapt to global economic realities. Ideologues have made concessions and adjustments in Vietnam and China, and the economies and standards of living in those countries — at  least in the urban centers — have benefited. Cubans deserve better than their country’s planned economy, which has failed over the years to deliver on its promises.

Los Angeles Times (April 27)

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